From the legendary fishing trip of the demigod Maui (the one he towed up New Zealand’s North Island from the depths of the ocean), it is said that the canoe still stands. Today, Maui’s canoe – Te Waka a Maui – also known as the South Island of New Zealand.
If you use your imagination when looking at a map of NZ, you might picture the North Island as a fish with its head near Wellington and its tail the Coromandel. Looking at the South Island, imagine the stern facing the bottom with the bow at the bow. Stewart Island off the South coast is affectionately known as Punga a Maui – The Anchor of Maui.
For adventure seekers, Maui’s canoes are the perfect playground. Hiking, thrills, spills and breathtaking scenery await, so dive into our top experiences for traveling New Zealand’s South Island.
1) Explore Queenstown
Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the dramatic backdrop of aptly named Remarkables, Queenstown essentially invented adventure travel. If you’re backpacking in New Zealand, Queenstown is sure to be one of your main hubs while traveling. Home to the world’s first commercial bungee jumping, incredible skiing and snowboarding in the winter, downhill biking and hiking in the summer, Queenstown is a melting pot of water. people from all over the world looking for outdoor adventures in and around town.
Expect a buzzing nightlife almost nightly with plenty of live music and DJs to explore. Many bars and restaurants offer food and drinks depending on the night of the week, so you’ll never get bored with places to dine and explore. $2 taco night is always a win!
Anyone who’s been to Queenstown will probably start to salivate at the mention of Fergburger. Head to this popular burger joint in the center of town, you can usually spot the queue from a mile away. Trust us, it’s worth the wait. Right next to it is Fergbakery which should not be missed. Grab yourself a cake, meat pie, burger or ice cream and head down to the lakeside for the best Kiwi around.
2) Thrilling & Spilled Jet Boating
Imagine you’re gliding on water less than 3 inches thick at up to 85 km/h within centimeters of jagged rock faces, then suddenly spin 360 degrees as the refreshing glacier water splashes splash on you. Expect all your senses to come alive as you cruise the rivers of Queenstown, famous for gold mining since the 1860s. A perfect way to combine sightseeing and thrills. , the jet boat was actually invented in New Zealand! Expect stops along the way as your well-trained driver can point out the stunning surrounding mountains and Queenstown attractions. Jet boating is the most fun and perfect way to bond with your friends as you soak up each other’s personal space.
3) Milford Sound Journey
Considered one of the world’s top natural attractions, this famous cove is also called the Eighth Wonder of the World by the famous writer and poet Rudyard Kipling. Located a day’s walk from Queenstown, you’ll pass through the quaint lakeside town of Te Anau before reaching the Marine Sanctuary. Featuring two eternal waterfalls that cascade over towering peaks, Milford Sound comes to life in the rain as temporary waterfalls come together, creating an unforgettable sight. So if it rains, you’re in luck! Specially designed boats allow you to really get up close to the falls as you sail, and stand at the front of the boat for a refreshing shower that is said to age you for years… sign us up! Milford Sound also serves as a habitat for a wide variety of wildlife to spot as you cruise the calm waters listening to ancient stories. Keep an eye out for seals, dolphins and if you’re lucky, one of New Zealand’s rarest penguins.
4) Experience the magic movie in the LOTR tour
A trip to New Zealand‘s South Island wouldn’t be complete without visiting some iconic filming locations! The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in some truly breathtaking locations across the South Island, especially around Queenstown, providing a stunning backdrop to Peter Jackson’s epic adventure story. . Go out on a Lord of the Rings tour to uncover the stories and locations behind the camera, and make it happen by living your own Middle-earth adventure. Fear not if you’re not the biggest fan of these movies, no matter what was filmed, you’ll have the chance to visit New Zealand’s most beautiful mountains, lakes, forests and fields , so there’s something for everyone when you do. southward detour.
5) World-class hiking
Getting out into nature with a classic hiking is the best way to leave the modern world behind and get back to the basics. New Zealand is famous for some of the best day hikes in the world, and you’ll need to carry plenty of spare memory cards for your camera as the native flora and fauna will surprise you everywhere. fork. Here are two of our favorites…
HOOKER VALUE TRIP
This 5km trail is very well maintained by the Department of Conservation, New Zealand’s watchdog for outdoor recreation, providing clear paths and protecting the animals in the vicinity. Hooker Valley will take you past glacial rivers and towering peaks as you loop through the Southern Alps next to Aoraki/Mt Cook – the tallest mountain in New Zealand. A beautiful flat road takes you along 3 different swing bridges and across stunning Lake Mueller, so grab your camera and leave everyone back home in awe. Be sure to take the time to stop, listen, and feel how special this land is, as it carries a cultural and spiritual significance to the Maori Tahu tribe that still lives in the South. .
MT IRON HIKE
Located in the Otago region near Wanaka, the Iron Mountain hike offers perfect 360-degree views of the town and beyond. An easy one-and-a-half hour trail takes you to the summit of Iron Mountain, 250 meters above Lake Wanaka. It’s the perfect way to stretch your legs and will reward you with views of Upper Clutha Basin and Mt Aspiring National Park. Take the chores literally, kick your appetite and treat yourself to some bevvies (beer) after you get back.
6) Take a photo of #thatwanakatree
If you haven’t seen this photo of a partially flooded willow tree in Lake Wanaka, you’re in the minority! Photographers and social media enthusiasts from all over the world come to New Zealand to take pictures of this famous tree and we don’t blame them… it’s a sight to behold.
7) Stargazing & Soaking
What could you think of better than relaxing, watching the sun go down on a postcard picturesque lake and relaxing your muscles in a natural hot spring with friends after a long hike while waiting for the stars to appear to you? We don’t think so. Tekapo is home to all of this in the middle of a UNESCO Dark-Sky reserve. This means that light pollution in the area is limited, so it’s one of the best stargazing sites you’ll ever visit. Don’t be surprised on a clear night to see many shooting stars overhead. In winter, cooler air temperatures and snow-capped peaks in the distance will keep you in the warm spa waters until you’re left with nothing but wrinkles. This is a brilliant experience and will leave you wanting more!
8) Chop up some slopes
Many snow sports enthusiasts and winter lovers come to New Zealand to experience snow heaven. There are 4 great ski/snowboard courses within easy reach of Queenstown alone, each offering a variety of runs for all levels and world-class facilities. If you’ve never learned to ski don’t worry: NZ has plenty of opportunities to learn, especially if you’re planning to live and work in New Zealand during the winter months.
Queenstown is a gorgeous resort town during the ski season with loads of deals to get you down the mountain like a pro in no time. After you’ve watched the sunset behind the mountains with an Après ski beer with friends, make the short trip back into town to dance the night away until it’s time to climb again. Every night is a Saturday night in Queenstown if you know where to look!
Feeling inspired? Check out our other New Zealand travel blogs here for more New Zealand travel tips!